AUTHORITY AND SPIRITUAL ABUSE
For you know what commandments we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus. I Thess. 4:2
When Jesus was attacked by the scribes and Pharisees for His activities, He was quick to say that He had not acted on His own authority. He only did what His father told Him to do. The bottom line was clear. “If what I’m doing causes you distress, take it up with God because I only do what He says. And, we are One, by the way.” His claims should have sent all of them to their knees.
I, as His disciple, bear the same message. “I speak, I function in this relationship, I act, not by my own authority.” However, because I’m not perfect like Jesus, my message can come across in a way to disfigure the face of God. If I have anger, power, or fear issues, the message of Christ will be heard in tones and facial expressions that repel.
If you have suffered any form of spiritual abuse, then today’s devotional is probably for you. I sat tight yesterday and refrained from writing because I was aware that communicating the wrong thing about this subject would harm the body of Christ. I have been listening, asking God to help me gather my thoughts and express them in the Spirit.
Spiritual abuse occurs when a person in religious authority misleads and maltreats another person in the name of God. They quote the Word, say a lot of “God said so!” in order to make others fall in line. They fail to realize that Jesus preached the Word with ‘grace and truth.’ While He was holy, He was also gracious. A tough combination. John said that he saw Jesus’ glory, full of grace and truth. The combination of the two contributed to esteem Him glorious in John’s spiritual vision.
Imagine righteous parents with a lot of rules, good rules, but who have a house full of children who are openly rebellious. How gracious would those parents be when they saw their rules being broken? Would truth continue to be shared with grace? Only if they’re like Jesus.
The burden is on each of us to represent God with the face of Christ. Not all grace. Not all Truth. A combination that only the Holy Spirit can delineate as we rely on Him to live His life through us. When others feel nagged and bullied by our words, and simultaneously lose their appetite for God’s heart, it is time to ask God for a heap of self-awareness. Perhaps we should ask others how they experience us as we preach.
I may speak the truth but what is my tone? What does my face say? What is my body language? Oh, God. Show me where I might be doing more harm than good. Amen